Essential oils have been used for centuries for their distinct aromas and healing properties. They were used in ancient Egypt to embalm the dead and even played a part in treating wounded soldiers in World War II.
Today, aromatherapy is a popular way to use essential oils to promote physical and emotional well-being. Our sense of smell is closely linked to our mood and emotions, and aromatherapy is particularly well known for relieving the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Essential oils come from the flowers, leaves, bark, roots and fruit of plants. They each have a unique scent and character. Here are our favorite calming essential oils to help you to relax and stay on top of your day:
Lavender is probably the best-known calming essential oil. Its soothing aroma can help relax the nervous system, and is great for relieving restlessness, irritability and insomnia. Try sprinkling a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow before bed to help you drift off into a natural, peaceful sleep.
Rose is a flower traditionally associated with love and the heart. It is thought to settle your emotions following grief or shock and can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Try mixing rose essential oil with a carrier oil and gently massage your neck, shoulders or hands when you feel tense or overwhelmed.
Chamomile is another plant well known for its calming properties. It is said to promote inner peace, while relieving irritability, over thinking, worry and aiding restful sleep. Although chamomile essential oil is generally safe, some people can have an allergic reaction, so take extra care when using this oil. Try adding a few drops to a warm bath before bed to help you sleep more easily.
Frankincense is an essential oil with a long history. It comes from the resin of a tree and can be used to relieve stress and calm the mind. Frankincense essential oil has been traditionally used to deepen meditation. Try adding a few drops mixed with water to an oil burner in your room while you practice your favorite relaxation techniques.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit and is the ingredient that gives earl grey tea its distinctive taste. In aromatherapy, it is used to calm, relax and relieve agitation while improving energy levels. Bergamot oil can increase your sensitivity to sunlight so avoid applying it to the skin within 12 hours of sun exposure. Try adding bergamot essential oil to a diffuser in your home to give you a sense of tranquility throughout the day.
Coming from the flowers of a tropical tree, ylang ylang has a sweet and gentle aroma which can be used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, lift your mood and relieve headaches. It reduces blood pressure so should not be used by people with hypotension, and some people find it can irritate the skin. Sprinkle a few drops of ylang ylang essential oil on a handkerchief and carry it with you to sniff whenever you feel things are starting to get on top of you.
Jasmine is an essential oil used to relieve anxiety, calm the nervous system and lift your mood and energy. Try using a vaporizer with jasmine essential oil first thing in the morning for an uplifting start to your day.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can be inhaled through the nose, allowing them to directly stimulate the areas of your brain associated with mood and emotion. They can be sprinkled on a handkerchief or pillow, added to a warm bath or used in diffusers, vaporizers, humidifiers or specially designed oil burners.
You can also apply essential oils to the skin to allow them to pass directly into your bloodstream. Most essential oils should not be used neat. Add a few drops to a carrier oil such as almond oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil before using. You should always carry out a patch test before using a new essential oil to make sure it does not irritate your skin.
Safety of Essential Oils
Essential oils are generally safe, but if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have a medical condition you should consult your doctor before use.
Always read the label and do not exceed the recommended dosage for your chosen essential oil. Keep out of reach of children, avoid contact with the eyes and do not take essential oils internally unless specifically told to do so.